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  • Graham Wilson

Still relying on Microsoft Access in your operation? If so you need to read this...

For many organisations, Microsoft Access is the go-to solution when it comes to managing key business processes. However, while Microsoft Access can function as a local database, it comes with a plethora of disadvantages. Microsoft Access debuted in 1992: almost thirty years ago, and thirty years are a whole era in the world of technology. Below are some of the main issues businesses encounter with Microsoft Access, as well as some future-proofed alternatives.

One of the major reasons why companies should consider a switch from Microsoft Access is that as the business grows, the local databases enabled by it also grow in complexity and size. Access’ performance degrades significantly when the amount of data exceeds 1 gig (even though 2 gigs are advertised by Microsoft as the threshold). An increasing number of records in the database directly translate into performance and stability problems. This makes the local databases harder to support and can cause significant disruption to your key business processes when they fail. Additionally, Access only offers a limited ability to ensure the records are complete and adhere to a consistent manner. These limitations compound the risk of data corruption or unreliable reports, which also puts your key processes—and business reputation—at risk. A best-practice solution is migrating your database to Microsoft SQL Server and using web- and cloud-based technologies for easier, secure access to the data.

Using Microsoft Access as your go-to solution is also a gamble with the future. In 2018, after four years in the cloud, Microsoft Access announced it is retiring support for any browser-based business applications. It is also not included in Microsoft’s new 365 Cloud-based development strategy, which means any Microsoft Access applications will no longer be viable in the modern cloud-based working environments.

Last, but certainly not least, the data that Microsoft Access applications hold is vulnerable to breaches. The reason is that an Access database is just one file: it can easily be emailed or even sent externally via a file transfer service. To protect any sensitive data or prevent data breaches, companies need to implement strong security controls in place which is often time-consuming and not that effective because Microsoft Access simply does not offer the same level of security as SQL Server does.

What is the solution? Let us take a glimpse at how Microsoft Access applications work. Every application has two core elements: the Back End tables of data and the Front End forms (where you access the backend data). A quick and easy interim solution would be to migrate the Back End data tables to SQL Server or Microsoft Azure which safeguards the data. Your IT or Microsoft supplier can provide an additional level of security and protect the Back End Data. Additionally, the Microsoft Access Front End forms can connect to these which maintains your Microsoft Access Front End user functionality. You can also access the data by new application tools like Microsoft PowerApps and begin your migration to slowly replace the MS Access functionality.

Some of the main drawbacks of Microsoft Access applications include lack of availability over the internet, problems with functionality and the fact that they are not really future-proofed. Businesses looking to grow will inevitably have to deal with failing performance and other Microsoft Access-related issues. The solution: consider migrating your Microsoft Access Data Tables to support Microsoft SQL or Cloud-based Azure solutions for easier, faster and more reliable application building.

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